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Maryam Hassouni

Shooting Star 2008 – The Netherlands

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Maryam Hassouni

Dutch actress Maryam Hassouni was born in the Netherlands in 1985 to Moroccan parents. At 16, she was cast in the lead role of the TV series Dunya & Desie, about the friendship between two girls, one Dutch and the other Moroccan. Since then she has played in several series and films including Kicks [+see also:
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and Offers, winning an Emmy Award for the latter. Everything will come full circle with the film adaptation of Dunya & Desie [+see also:
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film profile
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that will premiere at the 2008 Berlinale, where she is also the Dutch Shooting Star.

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Cineuropa: What will be your personal sales pitch in Berlin?
Maryam Hassouni: That’s a difficult question! I guess what sets me apart is that I’m Dutch but with Arabic blood, and as an actress, I like to play things small and intimate. I much prefer working with my eyes and with looks than with pages of dialogue – it is more magical that way and the message can be much stronger and clearer.

What are the biggest differences between TV and film work for you?
Film is more magical than TV. It is difficult to explain but I guess that it has to do with the amount of detail that goes into everything, which is logical since it has to be suitable to be blown up for the big screen. In film, it is not only about the visuals and the actors but also about the sound, the music. And in film you have a chance to truly develop your character, whereas in TV more attention is paid to the story than to the characters. Coming back to Dunya for the film was difficult at first because I had grown and lost her dreamy gaze, which I had to find again.

How do you see the role of actors of Moroccan or generally foreign extraction in the Netherlands, with films such as Shouf Shouf Habibi becoming big successes?
It is clear that a Dutch film with only blond, blue-eyed Dutchmen is not credible as a reflection of Dutch reality; the Netherlands are very multi-cultural. At the same time, it is dangerous to cast an actor of Moroccan origins just because you want to have a Moroccan face. The casting for both should be based on acting talent, and a lot still needs to change. We are still waiting for screenwriters and directors from that background to tell these stories from the inside.

What are you most looking forward to in Berlin?
Meeting the other Shooting Stars, of course, and, career-wise, meeting producers and casting directors. There is also the premiere of Dunya & Desie, which is sweet fable about friendship that should have wide appeal.

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